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Long-term Changes in Indian Food Basket and Nutrition

The food consumption pattern in India is diversifying towards high value commodities. The decline in per capita consumption of cereals, in particular, coarse cereals, has worsened the nutritional status of the rural poor. On the basis of National Sample Survey data on dietary patterns and consumer expenditure, this article examines empirical evidence on the nature and extent of long-term changes in consumption patterns and nutritional status of various socio-economic groups at the household level in rural and urban India.

Long-term Changes in Indian Food Basket and Nutrition

The food consumption pattern in India is diversifying towards high value commodities. The decline in per capita consumption of cereals, in particular, coarse cereals, has worsened the nutritional status of the rural poor. On the basis of National Sample Survey data on dietary patterns and consumer expenditure, this article examines empirical evidence on the nature and extent of long-term changes in consumption patterns and nutritional status of various socio-economic groups at the household level in rural and urban India.

PRADUMAN KUMAR, MRUTHYUNJAYA, MADAN M DEY

I Introduction

E
ngels’ law on food demand appears to be fully operational in India, as is evident from the declining income elasticities for food with rise in income. In the past decennia, economists had closely followed the trend in cereals consumption and demonstrated that the per capita consumption and demand have levelled off [Kumar 1998]. Diversification in food supply and domestic market reforms initiated during the 1980s have offered a wide choice of food items to consumers, leading to changes in dietary patterns towards high-value grains (rice and wheat), and products of livestock (milk, meat), poultry, fisheries and horti culture (fruits and vegetables). However, significant socioeconomic and regional differences do exist in supply and demand patterns. Nearly 260 million (out of nearly one billion) people in India are below the so-called “poverty line” and of which 68 per cent live in rural areas. About half of the sub-marginal (<0.5 ha) farm holders are poor and remain undernourished [Singh et al 2002]. Though poverty is on decline in the country as a whole, there are states like Assam, Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh where poverty is much above the national figure. It is widely believed that though food security has been achieved at the national level, it is not so at the regional and household levels, especially among the poor. Therefore, a study on changes in food basket at the household level is of great significance. Since consumption-changes occur slowly, such an analysis should be based on long-term basis.

This paper provides empirical evidence on the nature and extent of long-term changes in consumption patterns and nutritional status of various socio-economic groups at the household level in rural and urban India as well as in some of the poorer states. It also takes stock of the changing consumption patterns of the poorest strata of population in rural and urban India. It is hypothesised that the dietary changes during the last few years have improved the food and nutritional status at the household level in both rural and urban areas for all the socio-economic classes and states of India.

II Methodology

The unit data on dietary patterns and consumer expenditures collected by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) at the national level was used for this study. The sample covered 71,385 rural and 48,924 urban households, making a total of 1,20,309 households. The analysis was based on the 38th and 55th rounds of the National Sample Survey (NSS) and pertained to the years 1983 (January to December) and 1999-2000 (July to June), respectively.

The Approach

The sample households were grouped into poor (bottom) and non-poor (upper) classes. The non-poor class comprised households which were above 150 per cent of the poverty line, whereas, the poor class consisted of households below the poverty line. The poverty line for rural and urban areas in different states corresponding to various NSS rounds, as defined and adopted by the Planning Commission, was used in the study (Appendix I). The per capita expenditure of the sample households was used as a proxy for per capita income. Prices of food items were computed by dividing the expenditure by the quantity consumed. The changes in consumption pattern were assessed using the indicators of quantity of food items, budgetary share and calorie intake. The food items included rice, wheat, coarse cereals, pulses, edible oils, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, fish, eggs and sugar. Budgetary share referred to the expenditure on individual food items in the total food expenditures. The calorie intakes referred to the calories from different food items and were calculated using conversion factors provided by NSSO (Report No 405). The minimum (threshold) food-energy requirement was taken as 1,800 kcal/person/day for rural households and 1,575 kcal for the urban households. It represented 75 per cent of the recommended values, 2,400 kcal/person/day for rural and 2,100 kcal/person/day for urban [for more information, see Dandekar 1996]. An intake below this threshold was considered not sufficient for maintaining health and body weight and carrying out light physical activity. The threshold level of food-protein intake was taken as 48 g/person/day for an average Indian. The households consuming below this level were treated as malnourished. The threshold level for fat was taken as 16 g/person/day.

Changes in Consumption Pattern

The per capita annual consumption of different food items, in 1983 and 1999-2000 by different income groups and changes

Economic and Political Weekly September 1, 2007 therein are presented in Table 1, a perusal of which reveals two types of effects. (i) Changes in consumption pattern of a group (poor or non-poor) over time, which have been termed as “structural shift” on account of “consumption diversification effect”. This change is the result of easier access to supply, changes in tastes and preferences, and changing relative prices,

(ii) Changes in food consumption as one moves from poor to non-poor group in the same year, which have been designated as “pure income effect”. This change is a result of an increase in the income level of the consumer. It can be seen from Table 1 that the per capita consumption of all the food items (except coarse cereals) is higher by the households in the upper group in both the years under study. These differences, on account of the obvious pure income effect, were substantial for edible oils, horticultural and livestock products.

Another important feature visible from the data in Table 1 is that per capita consumption of coarse cereals in India has declined substantially over the years for both the income groups. This could largely be due to agricultural diversification combined with changes in tastes and preferences. On the basis of econometric analysis Mittal (2007) concluded that the increase in relative prices of cereals vis-à-vis other food commodities, diversification towards high-value food and changes in taste and preferences are really responsible factors for the decline in cereal consumption. In the case of the poor, though the per capita annual consumption of the staple high-value cereals like rice has increased by 9 kg on account of increase in income as well as tastes and preferences, total consumption, however, has declined by 10 per cent due to rise in prices of cereals in real terms during the 1990s as well as dietary diversification towards non-foodgrains. Chand et al (2003) have also pointed out that increases in the prices of cereals have been much higher than those of horticultural, milk and milk products due to government intervention through the price support mechanism. In fact, from 1993-94 to 1999-2000, the growth rate in the prices of cereals was 50 per cent more than that in general prices. Similarly, the annual per capita consumption of pulses declined by 9 per cent for the bottom income group and nearly 6 per cent for upper income group during 1983-99, owing to their higher relative prices. The declining trend in the consumption of rice and wheat for the upper group was due to the consumption diversification effect. Murthy (2000) has reported the importance of tastes and preferences in his study of consumer-demand analysis. For example, he observed that in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh the average consumption of total cereals for all income groups had declined, as in most other states, by 8.4 per cent over the period, 1972-94. This decrease in cereals consumption consisted of

3.74 per cent due to rise in income and 4 per cent due to change in tastes away from cereals, besides a small decline of 0.37 per cent due to rise in its prices. The overall effect of income and taste was much less in the urban areas. The magnitude of income and taste effect seemed to decline with the rise in income. Thus, Murthy has provided a suitable explanation for the declining demand for cereals, despite rising incomes in India.

Over the years, the per capita annual consumption of edible oils, vegetables, fruits, milk, meat, fish, eggs and sugar has increased substantially in both upper and bottom income groups. The increase is quite significant in the bottom group. For example, in both groups, the increase in per capita annual consumption during 1983 to 1999-2000 was the highest for fruits (169 per cent in bottom group and 184 per cent in upper group), followed by meat, fish and eggs (100 per cent and 122 per cent), edible oil (77 per cent and 88 per cent), vegetables (50 per cent and 39 per cent), and milk (31.6 per cent and 30.7 per cent). Thus, dietary shift in favour of high-value products was prominent and pervasive.

The structural shift has been quite significant even in the rural areas. A comparison between consumption in rural and urban

Table 1: Annual Per Capita Food Consumption by Different Income Classes in India, 1983 and 2000 (Kg/person/annum)

Commodity Bottom Income Group Upper Income Group 1983 1999-2000 Change, 1983 1999-2000 Change, Per Cent Per Cent

Rice 66.5 75.6 +13.7 94.4 85.8 -9.1 Wheat 43.6 44.9 +3.0 71.0 59.9 -15.5 Coarse cereals 37.0 11.9 -67.8 28.8 9.0 -68.8 Total cereals 147.1 132.4 -10.0 194.3 154.6 -20.4 Pulses 7.6 6.9 -9.2 17.7 16.6 -6.2 Edible oils 2.6 4.6 +76.9 7.3 13.7 +87.7 Vegetables 36.0 53.9 +49.7 65.2 90.8 +39.3 Fruits 1.6 4.2 +168.8 6.4 18.2 +184.4 Milk equivalent 15.7 20.5 +30.6 89.7 117.2 +30.7 Meat, fish and eggs 1.9 3.8 +100 4.8 10.6 +122.8 Sugar 6.4 6.6 +3.1 18.7 18.8 +0.5

Note: Bottom group – Below poverty line, Upper group – Above 150 per cent of poverty line.

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from National Sample Survey Organisation.

Table 2: Structural Change in Food Consumption in Rural and Urban Areas of India, 1983 and 1999-2000

Commodity Rural Urban 1983 1999-2000 Change 1983 1999-2000 Change

Annual per capita food consumption (kg) Rice 87.0 90.6 +3.6 70.3 70.3 0.0 Wheat 51.7 52.6 +0.9 58.2 56.2 -2.0 Coarse cereals 42.8 14.1 -28.7 13.1 4.6 -8.5 Cereals 181.5 157.3 -24.2 141.7 131.1 -10.6 Pulses 11.1 11.2 +0.1 12.4 14.7 +2.3 Edible oils 3.5 8.4 +4.9 6.1 13.3 +7.2 Vegetables and

fruits 48.8 83.9 +35.1 76.7 114.7 +38.0 Milk equivalent 37.0 63.3 +26.3 55.5 90.7 +35.2 Meat, fish and eggs 3.9 6.7 +2.8 1.4 9.5 +8.1 Sugar 10.6 13.2 +2.6 11.8 16.1 +4.3

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from National Sample Survey Organisation.

Table 3: Structural Changes in Food Expenditure

Commodity Rural Urban 1983 1999-2000 Change 1983 1999-2000 Change

Percentage share in total expenditure Food 69.1 61.5 -7.6 59.1 50.7 -8.4 Non-food 30.9 38.5 +7.5 40.9 49.3 +8.4 Annual expenditure 1388 6560 +5172 1997 10710 +8713

(Rs/capita) CPI at 1980 price 128 280 +152 131 335 204 Annual expenditure 1084 2343 +1259 1524 3197 +1673

at 1980 prices (Rs/capita) Total calorie 2205 2332 +127 1972 2440 +468 intake/capita/day

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from National Sample Survey Organisation.

Table 4: Share of Coarse Cereals in Total Cereals Intake of Rural and Urban Households in Bottom and Upper Income Groups in Different States of India, 1999-2000 (In per cent)

State Rural Urban Bottom Group Upper Group Bottom Group Upper Group

Gujarat 61.8 38.4 19.8 7.1 Karnataka 58.9 33.5 37.8 15.4 Maharashtra 46.8 32.8 21.4 5.7 Rajasthan 39.2 23.5 6.2 3.3 Andhra Pradesh 15.6 4.3 3.9 0.6 Himachal Pradesh 18.8 15.4 4.7 0.7 Madhya Pradesh 15.7 3.8 2.4 0.9 Tamil Nadu 7.9 1.7 1.8 0.3 Bihar 4.5 1.7 0.1 Negligible Orissa 4.0 0.9 1.3 0.5 Uttar Pradesh 2.6 1.6 0.6 0.4 Haryana 4.7 3.1 0.7 0.5 India 10.0 8.8 5.4 3.7

Note: Bottom group – Below poverty line; Upper group – Above 150 per cent of poverty line. States with negligible share are not included.

Source: Chand and Kumar (2002).

Table 5: Percentage of Undernourished Population in India Below the Threshold Levels of Calories, Protein and Fat, 1983 and 1999-2000

Year Bottom Group Upper Group Rural Urban All India Rural Urban All India

Calories 1983 56 51 54 9 8 9 1999-2000 64 46 58 12 5 9 Protein 1983 51 64 55 9 20 13 1999-2000 65 65 65 14 14 14 Fats 1983 61 40 55 10 4 8 1999-2000 48 16 36 4 2 3

Notes: Bottom group : Below poverty line. Upper group : Above 150 per cent of poverty line.

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from National Sample Survey Organisation.

Appendix Table 1: State-specific Poverty Lines in India (Rs/capita/month)

State 1983 1999-2000 Rural Urban Rural Urban

Andhra Pradesh 72.66 106.43 262.94 457.40 Assam 98.32 97.51 365.43 343.99 Bihar 97.48 111.80 333.07 379.78 Gujarat 83.29 123.22 318.94 474.41 Haryana 88.57 103.48 362.81 420.20 Himachal Pradesh 88.57 102.26 367.45 420.20 Jammu and Kashmir 91.75 99.62 367.45 420.20 Karnataka 83.31 120.19 309.59 511.44 Kerala 99.35 122.64 374.79 477.06 Madhya Pradesh 83.59 122.82 311.34 481.65 Maharashtra 88.24 126.47 318.63 539.71 Orissa 106.28 124.81 323.92 473.12 Punjab 88.57 101.35 362.68 388.15 Rajasthan 80.24 113.35 344.03 465.92 Tamil Nadu 96.15 120.30 307.64 475.60 Uttar Pradesh 83.85 110.23 336.88 416.29 West Bengal 105.55 105.91 350.17 409.22 Delhi 88.57 123.29 362.68 505.45

Source: Poverty line of Assam was used for Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura. Poverty line of Maharashtra was used for Goa and Daman and Diu. Poverty line of Tamil Nadu was used for Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicobar Island. Urban poverty line of Punjab was used for both rural and urban poverty of Chandigarh. Poverty line of Maharashtra was used for Dadra and

Nagar Haveli. Poverty line of Kerala was used for Lakhshadweep.

India for the period 1983-2000 (Table 2) indicates that the dietary pattern is converging and becoming similar in nature. The per capita annual consumption of cereals during this period declined from 182 to 157 kg in rural areas and from 142 to 131 kg in urban areas while that of fruits and vegetables increased from 49 to 84 kg in rural areas and from 77 to 115 kg in urban areas. There have been considerable changes in consumption of different food items of animal origin. For example, per capita annual milk consumption increased from 37 to 63 kg in rural areas and from 56 to 91 kg in urban areas. The consumption of meat, fish and eggs has also shown an increasing trend, though the per capita annual consumption was still on the lower side

(6.7 kg in rural and 9.5 kg in urban population); it could be due to non-consumption of these items by a considerable proportion (41 per cent) of inhabitants. The annual per capita consumption of livestock products in the year 1999-2000 was estimated to be 5.3 kg for meat, 5.9 kg for fish and 30 (number) eggs [Birthal and Kumar 2002].

The rural consumers spent 61.5 per cent of their income on food items compared to 50.7 per cent by urban consumers in

Appendix Table 2: Budgetary Shares of Different Food Commodities in Total Food Expenditure in India for 1983 and 2000 (In per cent)

Commodity Bottom Income Group Upper Income Group
1983 1999-2000 Change 1983 1999-2000 Change
Rural
Rice 34.4 33.5 -2.7 21.9 18.4 -15.8
Wheat 12.6 12.1 -3.5 10.0 8.4 -16.3
Coarse cereals 11.7 3.4 -70.9 4.9 1.8 -63.1
Cereals 58.7 49.0 -16.4 36.9 28.6 -22.3
Pulses 4.9 6.0 +20.4 5.8 5.8 +1.2
Edible oils 5.2 5.8 +12.4 6.4 5.6 -12.1
Vegetables 7.5 11.0 +46.9 6.9 9.5 +38.7
Fruits 0.9 1.1 +15.9 2.4 3.2 +34.6
Milk equivalent 5.1 6.2 +22.8 16.2 18.2 +11.9
Meat, fish and eggs 3.8 4.9 +29.6 5.9 7.0 +19.4
Sugar 3.0 3.1 +1.7 5.1 3.8 -24.4
Other food items 10.9 12.9 +18.3 14.5 18.2 +24.8
Urban
Rice 25.0 20.4 -18.3 16.6 13.8 -17.2
Wheat 15.4 13.9 -9.8 9.2 7.6 -17.4
Coarse cereals 4.9 2.2 -54.2 0.8 0.3 -57.7
Cereals 45.3 36.6 -19.3 26.6 21.7 -18.5
Pulses 6.2 6.9 +11.3 5.4 5.3 -2.4
Edible oils 7.8 6.8 -12.2 8.4 5.9 -30.2
Vegetables 8.2 10.4 +27.4 9.1 10.5 +14.6
Fruits 1.6 2.1 +29.3 4.0 4.6 +16.2
Milk equivalent 9.9 10.8 +8.9 20.1 19.4 -3.4
Meat, fish and eggs 1.7 5.8 +234.2 2.7 7.9 196.6
Sugar 4.4 3.9 -10.3 4.2 3.0 -28.0
Other food items 14.9 16.7 +11.9 19.5 21.8 +11.4
All India
Rice 31.3 28.2 -9.8 19.6 16.1 -17.7
Wheat 13.8 12.8 -4.9 9.7 8.0 -17.3
Coarse cereals 9.4 2.9 -68.9 3.1 1.1 -65.3
Cereals 54.2 44.0 -18.9 32.4 25.3 -22.2
Pulses 5.4 6.3 +18.2 5.6 5.6 -0.1
Edible oils 6.0 6.2 +3.0 7.3 5.8 -20.9
Vegetables 7.7 10.8 +39.4 7.8 10.0 +27.4
Fruits 1.2 1.5 +27.8 3.1 3.9 +27.1
Milk equivalent 6.7 8.1 +20.9 17.9 18.8 +4.9
Meat, fish & eggs 3.1 5.3 +70.0 4.5 7.5 +65.7
Sugar 3.5 3.4 -1.5 4.7 3.4 -26.9
Other food items 12.2 14.4 +18.0 16.7 19.9 +19.4

Note: Bottom group – Below poverty line, Upper group - Above 150 per cent of poverty line.

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from National Sample Survey Organisation.

Economic and Political Weekly September 1, 2007 the year 1999-2000 (Table 3). The corresponding figures in 1983 were 69.1 per cent and 59.1 per cent. It indicates a decline of about 7 to 8 per cent on food budget during the period 198399 for rural as well as urban households. This shows the improvement in the social welfare of the consumers. The increase in per capita calorie intake during this period was substantial in both groups, though much higher in urban areas (468 kcal/ person/day) as compared to rural areas (127 kcal/person/day). This higher calorie intake was being met through consumption of non-cereals and livestock commodities.

At the country level, the demand for coarse cereals was found to have declined significantly with replacements by rice and wheat, in general. This shift has been facilitated by policy support and techno logical breakthrough favouring rice and wheat. However, the national level picture has masked the importance of coarse cereals for food security in a few rainfed states like Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and for rural households in the bottom group (Table 4), which met 39.2 to

61.8 per cent of their total cereals consumption through coarse cereals in 1999-2000. The importance of coarse cereals in these states was quite high even in the urban households, particularly in the bottom income group.

Budgetary Shares by Commodities

Among the food items, the budgetary share of cereals dominated the food expenditure in both rural and urban areas. The share of cereals decreased with increase in the income level and was higher in rural than urban areas. The budgetary share of cereals during 1983 and 1999-2000 declined from 54 to 44 per cent for the bottom group and from 32 to 25 per cent for upper group (Appendix Table 2). The per capita expenditure on non-cereal food items was higher by urban population than their counterparts in rural areas. The share of non-cereals in total food expenditure has depicted an increasing trend during the last two decades. The consumers in both rural and urban areas opted for a diversified food basket, and it was true for both income groups. These results indicate a higher demand for livestock and horticultural products in the future. The upper

Appendix Table 3: Price of Food Item Paid by Different Household Groups in India in 1983 and 1999-2000 (Rs/Kg)

Food Item Year Bottom Income Group Upper Income Group
Rice 1983 3.16 3.34
1999-00 9.37 11.64
Wheat 1983 2.08 2.19
1999-00 7.20 8.27
Coarse cereals 1983 1.71 1.76
1999-00 6.19 7.51
Pulses 1983 4.71 5.09
1999-00 22.91 20.77
Edible oils 1983 15.59 16.12
1999-00 34.48 36.81
Vegetables 1983 1.44 1.93
1999-00 5.01 6.88
Fruits 1983 5.82 7.66
1999-00 9.11 13.20
Milk equivalent 1983 2.86 3.21
1999-00 9.87 9.92
Meat, fish and eggs 1983 10.97 15.06
1999-00 34.81 43.34
Sugar 1983 3.64 4.03
1999-00 11.29 12.99

income group consumers were quality conscious and paid higher prices for such commodities as rice, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and eggs (Appendix Table 3). Price differences in items like pulses, milk and sugar were not significant across the two income groups. However, dietary diversification and demand for better quality food were clearly visible. Both, public and private sectors would have to respond predictably to these signals.

Pattern of Food Consumption in Poorer States

It was interesting to study whether the dietary changes were visible in the poorer states of India. According to the NSS Survey of 1999-2000, a high percentage of the population lives below the poverty line in Orissa (47.2 per cent), Bihar (42.6 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (37.4 per cent), Assam (36.1 per

Appendix Table 4: Changes in Food Basket for the Bottom and Upper Income Groups in the Selected Poorer States of India, for the Years 1983 and 1999-2000

Year Share of the Food Share of Total
Expenditure, Expenditure,
Per Cent Per Cent
Cereals Fruits and Milk, Meat, Other Total Non-Food
Vegetables Fish and Eggs Foods Food Items
Bottom Income Group
Assam
1983 55.3 9.1 13.7 21.9 82.1 17.9
1999-00 50.7 12.5 13.9 22.9 75.8 24.2
Change, per cent -8.2 +37.0 +0.8 +4.9 -7.6 +34.8
Bihar
1983 67.3 9.1 5.4 18.2 80.4 19.6
1999-2000 53.9 12.5 9.5 24.1 73.2 26.8
Change, per cent -19.9 +37.6 +76.9 +32.0 -8.9 +36.4
Orissa
1983 71.4 8.4 4.4 15.9 79.8 20.2
1999-2000 60.4 12.9 6.5 20.5 73.0 27.0
Change, per cent -15.8 +53.3 +48.9 +29.5 -8.5 +33.8
Madhya Pradesh
1983 54.6 7.4 9.1 28.9 76.6 23.3
1999-2000 45.4 11.3 11.3 32.0 64.9 35.2
Change, per cent -16.8 +53.2 +23.8 +10.5 +15.5 +51.0
Uttar Pradesh
1983 51.1 9.1 10.8 28.9 73.3 26.7
1999-2000 43.2 11.9 13.3 31.6 65.5 34.5
Change, per cent -15.4 +30.0 +22.8 +9.2 -10.6 +29.2
Upper Income Group
Assam
1983 44.3 10.5 18.2 26.9 62.0 38.0
1999-2000 34.4 13.1 22.9 29.6 61.4 38.6
Change, per cent -22.5 +24.8 +25.4 +10.0 -1.0 +1.6
Bihar
1983 46.0 10.4 17.5 26.2 60.9 39.1
1999-2000 32.1 13.6 23.2 31.1 57.5 42.5
Change, per cent -30.1 +31.4 +32.9 +18.7 -5.6 +8.7
Orissa
1983 45.9 12.4 12.9 28.8 59.0 41.0
1999-2000 35.3 15.9 17.6 31.1 54.9 45.1
Change, per cent -23.1 +28.4 +36.9 +8.1 -7.0 +10.0
Madhya Pradesh
1983 34.2 9.3 18.6 38.0 57.4 23.3
1999-2000 27.3 12.7 23.9 36.1 49.0 35.2
Change, per cent -20.2 +36.6 +28.7 -4.8 -14.6 +51.0
Uttar Pradesh
1983 30.6 9.8 25.4 34.2 56.3 43.7
1999-2000 24.3 13.0 26.7 35.9 52.0 48.0
Change, per cent -20.6 +32.7 +5.3 +5.1 -7.7 +9.9

Notes: Other foods include pulses, edible oils, sugar and other processed foods. Bottom group - Below poverty line. Upper group - Above 150 per cent of poverty line.

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from National Sample Survey Organisation.

cent) and Uttar Pradesh (31.2 per cent). The changes in the food basket between 1983 and 1999-2000 for the bottom and upper income groups in these states of India are presented in Appendix IV. It was found that the poorer Indian states spent a larger portion of their budget on food as compared to other states. The bottom group spent a higher proportion of its budget on lowcalorie foods, while upper group did so on high-calorie food items. The results do corroborate that in the poorer states also, diets are diversifying towards horticultural and livestock food items, particularly in the upper income households. A similar pattern was observed for the agricultural labourers and small farmers (Appendix Table 5).

Calorie Consumption

A pertinent question in the context of dietary transition was how these changes were affecting the energy-nutrition balance, particularly of the poor. The calorie intakes from different food commodities by both expenditure groups in rural and urban areas in the years 1983 and 1999-2000 are recorded in Appendix Table 6. The cereals were the major suppliers of calories and non-cereals like pulses, edible oils, horticultural products, animal and fishery products were major providers of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, etc. Closely following the trends described earlier, the cereals accounted for 76.7 per cent of the total calorie intake in the rural poor and 68.3 per cent in the urban poor in the year 1999-2000. More significantly, the bottom income group derived more than three-fourths of its total food intake from cereals. The upper income group consumed more than half

(57.7 per cent) of the total calories intake from cereals. The decline in calorie intake from cereals on account of decrease in consumption was compensated by a marked increase in intake of calories from milk, vegetables, fruits, meat, sugar, etc. It has been concluded that as income rises, households generally diversify their food consumption pattern by shifting towards highvalue and high-quality food items.

It may, however, be necessary to examine the distribution aspects of calorie consumption, as it may be misleading at the aggregate level. For this purpose, the population below the threshold levels of calories, proteins and fat was estimated (Table 5). Table 5 reveals a general worsening of calorie and protein consumption, particularly in the bottom income group in rural areas, where the population below threshold level had increased from 56 per cent in 1983 to 64 per cent in 1999 in terms of calories intake, and from 51 per cent to 65 per cent in terms of protein intake. Ideally, the source of protein should be pulses and meat. But the data showed that cereals contributed 67 per cent of the protein source in rural India. With lesser consumption of cereals and more of non-cereals, the situation was expected to improve. This, however, needs a detailed empirical analysis. But in the case of fat, the situation had improved in all cases. For example, in the bottom income group in rural areas, the percentage of population below threshold level consuming fat decreased from 61 in 1983 to 48 in 1999, indicating some imbalances in food habits. Thus, at the disaggregate level one can see the worsening of nutritional situation with the dietary transition, particularly in the rural areas. It can perhaps be explained in terms of lack of purchasing power for procuring adequate quantity of high-value non-cereal commodities to compensate for loss in nutrition owing to replacement of cereals.

III Conclusions

Increase in income, urbanisation, and consumer perceptions regarding food quality and safety are effecting changes in the food-consumption pattern and these are pervasive changes. Food consumption pattern is diversifying towards vegetable oils,

Appendix Table 5: Changes in Dietary Pattern of Various Farm-sizes in 1983 and 1999-2000 (Kg/person/annum)

Item 1983 1999-2000 Annual Growth (Per Cent)

Agricultural labourers Cereals 164.1 148.5 -0.7 Pulses 8.1 8.5 -0.0 Edible oils 2.7 5.1 3.8 Vegetables and fruits 39.0 72.6 3.9 Milk equivalent 16.7 28.9 3.1 Meat, fish and eggs 3.3 4.9 2.6 Sugar 8.0 7.9 -0.3 Marginal farmers (< 1 ha) Cereals 176.4 161.0 -0.7 Pulses 9.0 11.8 1.2 Edible oils 3.1 9.8 6.7 Vegetables and fruits 50.6 86.9 3.3 Milk equivalent 25.3 59.2 4.8 Meat, fish and eggs 4.8 7.3 2.3 Sugar 7.9 14.5 3.3 Small farmers (1-2 ha) Cereals 187.9 165.2 -0.9 Pulses 11.4 12.3 -0.1 Edible oil 3.4 6.8 3.9 Vegetables and fruits 51.8 83.1 2.9 Milk equivalent 37.6 103.4 5.8 Meat, fish and eggs 3.7 4.5 1.1 Sugar 10.0 15.2 2.1

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from National Sample Survey Organisation.

Appendix Table 6: Distribution of Calorie Intake by Source in Bottom and Upper Income Groups in India, 1983 and 1999-2000 (Per cent of total calories)

Commodity Bottom income Group Upper Income Group 1983 1999-Change, 1983 1999-Change 2000 Per Cent 2000 Per Cent

Rural Cereals 83.6 76.7 -8 70.9 57.7 -19 Pulses 3.9 3.6 -8 5.8 5.1 -12 Edible oils 3.0 5.9 +97 5.0 9.3 +86 Vegetables and fruits 3.6 5.3 +47 3.6 5.8 +61 Milk equivalent 1.9 2.5 +32 7.2 10.4 +44 Meat, fish and eggs 0.47 0.62 +32 0.7 1.1 +57 Sugar 3.4 3.6 +6 7.2 6.9 -4

Urban Cereals 75.8 68.3 -10 59.7 44.0 -26 Pulses 5.1 4.4 -14 6.7 6.1 -9 Edible oils 5.8 7.9 +37 9.3 15.3 +64 Vegetables and fruits 3.4 5.2 +53 4.8 6.4 +33 Milk equivalent 3.9 4.8 +23 10.8 12.4 +15 Meat, fish and eggs 0.15 0.88 +487 0.33 1.38 +318 Sugar 5.5 5.3 -2 7.4 7.6 +3

All India Cereals 81.4 73.7 -9 66.4 51.7 -22 Pulses 4.3 3.9 -9 6.1 5.6 -8 Edible oils 3.8 6.6 +74 6.5 11.9 +83 Vegetables and fruits 3.5 5.3 +51 4.0 6.0 +50 Milk equivalent 2.4 3.3 +37 8.5 11.3 +33 Meat, fish and eggs 0.38 0.71 +87 0.60 1.21 +102 Sugar 4.0 4.2 +5 7.3 7.2 -1

Note: Bottom group – Below poverty line; Upper group – Above 150 per cent of poverty line.

Source: Authors’ calculations using data from National Sample Survey Organisation.

Economic and Political Weekly September 1, 2007 fruits, vegetables, milk and eggs. With increasing urbanisation, reducing poverty and rising disposable income, the demand for these items is expected to increase. Singh et al (2002) have estimated that the demand by the end of the Tenth Five-Year Plan of India (i e, 2007) for vegetables would be 103-118 million tonnes (mt), fruits 58-66 mt, milk 91-101 mt, meat 6.5-7.7 mt, fish 7.3

8.5 mt, and eggs 57.5 -67.5 billions. In spite of a decline in the real prices and increase in income, the per capita consumption of cereals has declined during the last two decades. In particular, coarse cereals have been severely affected, though these still dominate the food basket in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra in India. However, the impact of these changes in terms of nutrients, calories, vitamins, etc, is not clear. Some of the estimates in this paper have indicated that the nutritional status of rural people is becoming worse. Deeper insights and analytical investigations are needed to decipher this puzzle. These changes have significant bearing on demand/trade for food, agricultural diversification, market access, research priorities and resource allocations to achieve food and nutritional security. Public and private sectors would have to respond to these signals. These changes should be guided by suitable reforms in technologies, institutions and policies to accelerate the diversification process, and inter alia improve the food and nutritional security of the poorest of the poor.

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Email: pkumariari@rediffmail.com

[The authors are grateful to P K Joshi and Ashok Gulati for their valuable comments and suggestions. Views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not of the organisations they are working.]

References

Birthal, P S and P Kumar (2002): ‘Emerging Trends in Consumption of Livestock Products in India: Implications for the Growth of Livestock Sector’, paper presented at the Xth International Congress of Asianand Australasian Associations of Animal Production Societies, held at New Delhi.

Chand, R and P Kumar (2002): ‘Long-term Changes in Coarse Cereal Consumption in India: Causes and Implications’, Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 57(3), pp 316-25.

Chand, R, P Kumar and S Sapna (2003): ‘Impact of Agricultural Trade and Related Reforms on Domestic Food Security in India’, a study undertaken for Food and Agricultural Organisation, Rome, Institute of Economic Growth, April, Delhi.

Dandekar, V M (1996): ‘Population, Poverty and Employment’, The Indian Economy, Vol II, Saga Publications, New Delhi.

Kumar, P (1998): ‘Food Demand and Supply Projections for India’, Agricultural Economics Policy Paper 98-01, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.

Mittal, Surabhi (2007): ‘What Affect Changes in Cereal Consumption?’, Economic and Political Weekly, February 3, pp 444-47.

Murthy, K N (2000): ‘Changes in Taste and Demand Pattern for Cereals’, Agricultural Economics Research Review, 13(1), pp 26-53.

National Sample Survey Organisation (1996): Nutritional Intake in India,Report 405, Department of Statistics, Government of India, New Delhi.

Singh, R B, P Kumar and T Woodhead (2002): ‘Smallholder Farmers in India: Food Security and Agricultural Policy’, RAP Publication: 2002-03, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok.

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